In 2008 I printed, in duplicate, what I thought a finalized draft of my novel Crazy String, which I spent over a year writing. With all my naive surety I mailed my manuscript to the multitudes, and in what seemed like an instant dream-come-true signed an exclusive contract with a NYC Fifth Ave big-shot editor. In the spirit of holiday days, I will simply state, that 18 months later, we parted ways, headed out opposite doors. Me deflated, contract not renewed, sans publisher, but multiple drafts deeper into story through blood, sweat, and tears. Life lesson 101: dreams can be fleeting.
Remember the last time you said something, had it taken as far from your intended meaning as possible, succeeded in horrifying and alienating your audience, and was subsequently shamed and humiliated? In a very public forum? Well, if you have, you never forgot it, right? My shinning moment of misspeaking is now seared into my infernal list of wrongs. As much as I wanted to justify my comment, to explain my choice of words, it was for naught. Deaf ears. And I get it. You screw up, you get what you get. For the subsequent hours, I felt like a politician whose latest sound bite got twisted in the hands of the opposing but very savvy wordsmith into a half truth. Ruha Benjamin, the Associate Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University, said at a recent conference, sticks and stones may break your bones, but words will stay with you for a lifetime. I can attest to that truth. Even your own.